« Headers - Part 2 - Design Piracy Series | Main | Sheet of Paper Design - Can it be copyrighted?- Design Piracy Series »

May 20, 2008


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I like this serie, but I have to say that AutoRaptor does indeed looks alot like highrise. I can understand the objections made by 37signals / Jason.


A wise CEO once told me... "when you care enough, you steal from the best"

Jason should be flattered :)

Josh Goebel

I don't condone theft. I just don't think any stealing has taken place. I don't think the web apps we've been discussing have stolen from 37signals, despite similarities in design. Inspired perhaps, stolen, no.

I do agree with you that Jason should be flattered if 37signals is inspiring an entire community of develops to return to simpler, cleaner designs. That isn't a bad thing.

Lars Fischer

The paper sheet is not "theirs". Look at this rather old template: http://www.intensivstation.ch/files/templates/temp01.html

As far as I remember, this was before 37signals. And the text right says that this layout was originally taken from alistapart.com.

Kevin Milden

The paper sheet design doesn't scale. It's silly and ancient. When you borrow, try to borrow the best stuff. The sheet of paper is not it. Personally, I have stayed away from this design convention not only because it is limiting but because it was overly popularized and beating to death by 37Signals.

Ask around. People like sites and apps that have scalable widths.

The other is the product matrix. I hate them. They are complex and stupid. Just offer the biggest plan at the cheapest price possible. Anything else is just an attempt to get people to buy things they don't need. It is deceptive and far from simple. Ask some one to sign-up for basecamp that isn't savvy and watch them freeze up when they reach the cockpit of plans to choose from.


Josh Goebel

Beast is fluid. Pastie is fluid. Not every sheet of paper app I've worked with is, but a lot are. I think 37signals limits Backpack to a fixed width on purpose... Highrise and Basecamp stretch to how ever much screen real estate you choose to give them.

I'm not saying _everyone_ loves (or should use) sheet of paper design. I just personally happen to think it works very well for web applications in general. Your experience may be different of course. :-)

You have an interesting point on product plans... I find them helpful and pick the right plan usually... but then perhaps I'm better at gauging what I need and don't mind upgraded later... although I think I've had to upgrade my Typepad account twice... each time to get a new feature I needed - so I feel a little bit of your frustration. Although I think it's because the Typepad matrix is much more complex than the average product matrix.

I'll check out the link and see what I think.

Charles Melbye

Wow, AutoRaptor *did* blatantly steal CSS designs from Highrise/Basecamp, but 37signals trying to make the sheet of paper design only theirs is rediculous.

Josh Goebel

If you have found where CSS was lifted directly from Highrise/Basecamp, please let me know where and I will have a look. That should be pretty much _impossible_ though as all the HTML and CSS was written by hand, not stolen or copied from other sites.

All the products we've been discussing that I've personally been involved with (AutoRaptor, Beast, Pastie, etc) have their own original HTML and CSS created with my blood, sweat, and tears (due to IE).

Nothing has been stolen, but I'll be talking about theft as it applied to this topic soon in an upcoming article.

Charles Melbye

@Josh: Sorry if I wasn't clear, I meant more that AutoRaptor stole the _look_ of Basecamp (almost exactly, by the looks of it), but I didn't mean to be offensive and say that you basically copy and pasted their HTML/CSS :-)

Josh Goebel

Please see my latest post on copyright. I wish people would stop using words like "piracy", "theft", or "stolen" in this discussion. It's a serious accusation. To say that someone stole something is to call that person (or company) a thief.

No one can steal 37signal's design or their "look and feel" unless 37signals owns it or has rights to it in the first place. As far as I can tell, they do not.

I don't enjoy being called a criminal and I bet most others don't enjoy it either. So lets stop the name calling.

Charlie Melbye

Well excuse me then, forgive me for pointing out the obvious in that AutoRaptor's layout is a photocopy of basecamp. You can say all you want about this "serious accusation", but what it all comes down to at the end of the day is that the previous mentioned (obvious) fact is true.

Josh Goebel

Charlie: The issue isn't how similar or dissimilar an application is to a 37signals' app... but whether the new app actually violates 37signals copyright. If you continue to read this series you'll find that "look and feel" isn't something someone can copyright... even if all web apps had a 37signals "look and feel" nothing would have been "stolen" from 37signals.

I don't have any issue with 37signals saying "look, people are using our look and feel everywhere and we don't like that".

What I have an issue with is: "hey look, people are STEALING our look and feel and infringing on our copyright". This statement is simply not true.

Charles Melbye

Okay, it may not be against their copyrights, but don't you find it strange to emulate another site's design almost pixel for pixel to use in your own application?..

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